Ah, spring. Its official arrival was Thursday, heralded here by tornadoes of pine pollen.
Also arriving, and as hard to avoid as hay fever, is the blizzard of publicity from political candidates.
As the county's citizens were huddling with insurance adjusters to figure out how to pay for removal of downed trees or damaged roofs or even looking for a place to live, candidates were working to get their names in the paper.
Yes, it is tempting to talk about them without using their names, thereby depriving them of free publicity. But that could be a tad confusing.
Late in the week, Barry Fleming's folks dropped off a press kit with everything you could possibly need to know about his candidacy for the 10th Congressional District seat.
Of course, since Fleming already serves as a state House member and used to be chairman of the Columbia County Commission, we sort of already know who he is. But I suppose since somebody took all the time to make up the kits, I wouldn't want to hurt their feelings or anything.
Besides, the Fleming staffers might have felt like they had to do something, since the man their guy is running against has been awfully busy lately - and not just in making robo-calls to constituents.
After an Evans press conference to announce his opposition to a congressional tax hike, incumbent 10th District U.S. Rep. Paul Broun released the results of a poll showing that he is so popular that he won't even need to run for re-election.
Just kidding. Actually, the poll by the Tarrance Group does show that Broun has high name recognition in the district. It further says that if the race were held today, Broun would come in first, just a few percentage points ahead of pine pollen.
Seriously, Broun's poll puts him at 71 percent, with Fleming and newly declared candidate Nancy Schaefer at 11 percent each.
Actually, any polls at this stage shouldn't be taken too seriously. For one thing, it's very early. As Fleming's campaign endlessly points out, Fleming has raked in tons of money in campaign donations. He hasn't spent much of it yet (except, apparently, on press kits), and once he starts spending, his name recognition will rise accordingly.
It's also important to remember that, early in last year's election for this seat, the front-runner in the field was enjoying a big lead, too. But Jim Whitehead is now back to happily managing his chain of tire stores, while the man with little name recognition then is now sitting in Congress.
Home team wins
When Augusta city administrator and ex-cop Fred Russell brought members of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office SWAT team out to Adventure Crossing's new laser tag facility Monday, they seemed to think the ringers would easily help Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver beat Ron Cross' Columbia County team.
But sometimes it pays to have the home-field advantage.
The two teams met during the Columbia County Chamber's after-hours networking event, and Columbia County's team swept both games. How?
Here's what happened: Before the event started, the park's owners gave News-Times News Editor Donnie Fetter a tour of the facility. One of the things they showed him was the "home base" units for each team that, if fired on, give points to the opponent.
Fetter casually mentioned it to Cross, who passed the intel along to the team - which responded by having a player plug away at Augusta's base units, thus racking up points for the Columbia County team.
Heh heh. Perhaps, to make up for it, Copenhaver ought to challenge Columbia County to a friendly game of golf on their home turf. A little match at the Augusta National sounds good.
Back to those tornadoes: A huge tip of the hat to Jeff Rucker and the folks at WAGT-TV 26 for their all-weather, all the time coverage when the tornadoes hit last weekend.
Seven tornadoes swept through our area, including a category EF-1 that went through Columbia County, and Rucker and his team provided non-stop coverage during the entire scary event.
Holders of broadcast licenses periodically have to justify to the feds that they've done their part to use the license to provide community service. Rucker's storm coverage took care of that.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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